Staff Appraisal

Appraisal provides a clear link between the individual’s work and the targets set out in the School/Directorate priorities and provides an opportunity to discuss learning and development needs and short and long-term career aspirations. The Appraisal process is currently under review, however if you are still completing an appraisal for 2017/18 please note the following useful information

  • Roles and Responsibilities in the Appraisal Process

    Pro-Vice-Chancellors/Registrar and Chief Operating Officer

    PVC’s/Registrar and Chief Operating Officer should ensure that appropriate consultation has taken place within each Faculty/School/Professional Services with regard to the key objectives and priorities being pursued.

    Head of School/Director

    • At the beginning of the academic year should ensure that all appropriate staff are made aware of the key goals to be addressed within their respective approved School/Directorate Plan.
    • Ensures that academic and research staff are aware of the approved academic standards for their respective School.
    • Is responsible for implementing appraisal and for ensuring the completion of the process within his/her School/Directorate.
    • As a mandatory requirement prior to the appraisal meeting the Head of School/Director will meet with appraisers to ensure they are clear as to the standards that should be applied and the critical objectives/priorities of the School/Directorate.
    • Ensures consistency and fairness in the application of appraisal principles across the School/Directorate.
    • Co-ordinates all development plans and produces a prioritised summary of development and training needs within the School/Directorate.
    • Informs the HR Director that the appraisal process has been completed in his/her School/Directorate.

    The Countersigning Officer

    Normally the Countersigning Officer will be a member of staff senior to the appraiser. The Countersigning Officer:

    • Acts as arbitrator if agreement cannot be reached between appraiser and appraisee.
    • Ensures that all appraisers for whom they have responsibility have followed appropriate procedures.
    • Ensures that the appraiser group within the School applies the process with consistency.

    The Appraiser

    Appraisers are nominated by the Head of School/Directors and will normally be Directors of Research or Directors of Education, members of the professoriate or managers who have normal line management responsibility for those colleagues to be appraised. In larger research clusters/departments the role of appraiser may be delegated to other senior staff but the PVC, Director and Head of School should endeavour in so far as is practicable to ensure that the appraiser group is capable of effectively facilitating the review of performance and development.

    Appraisers should:

    • Prior to the appraisal meeting have met with the PVC, Director or Head of School to ensure they are clear about academic standards, institutional objectives and priorities and the standards expected within the School/Directorate.
    • Have a good knowledge of the appropriate level at which objectives should be agreed, and where appropriate, how these should relate to the development of the targeted profile for promotion.
    • Have no conflict of interest with the appraisee.
    • Promote a supportive climate enabling open and constructive dialogue between appraisee and appraiser.

    The appraiser is responsible for:

    • Initiating the appraisal process.
    • Ensuring that the standards, objectives and key tasks set are reasonable, reflect an appropriate balance in the individual's portfolio, and map onto the Faculty/ Directorate/ School plans.
    • Scheduling the annual meeting.
    • Keeping progress on the achievement of standards, objectives and activities under review and making amendments or adjustments as appropriate.
    • Ensuring that all the documentation is complete and forwarded for record keeping, retaining a hard copy only for themselves.

    Changing Appraiser

    There is provision for a change of appraiser should a member of staff, for good reason, feel unhappy with the person suggested by the PVC, Director, Head of School. In these circumstances an alternative appraiser should be agreed through discussion with the senior manager and the Reward Team.

    Managers should seek to have appraisals completed by:

    • 31 July for all staff (except Academic and Research staff);
    • 30 September for Academic and Research staff;

    The Appraisee

    Appraisees are responsible for:

    • Preparing effectively for the appraisal discussion.
    • Contributing constructively at the appraisal meeting.
    • Agreeing their performance and development objectives.

    Human Resources Directorate

    Human Resources shall:

    • Analyse the reported outcome from Schools/Directorates and report to the University Operating Board highlighting the key issues.
    • Provide help and support in relation to the appraisal process.
    • Support the appeals procedure.
    • Arrange training to support the implementation of appraisal.

    Organisational Development

    The Organisational Development team shall:

    • Provide feedback to senior managers in relation to the key training and development needs that should be given priority. Where appropriate, these will be addressed in the Learning and Development Annual Plan. Additionally specific training requirements can be agreed and delivered at School/Directorate level.
    • Work closely with Schools/Directorates in relation to the implementation of personal development plans where appropriate.
    • Deliver/arrange training programmes both across the University and within Faculty School/Directorates.

    The University Operating Board

    The University Operating Board is responsible for ensuring that appraisal has taken place within the University. In the initial three years of implementing the revised appraisal scheme a random anonymised sample of the appraisal documents from each grade within each School/Directorate will be selected by Human Resources. A review will be carried out by Human Resources in conjunction with the Faculty PVC/Registrar and Chief Operating Officer. In light of this review the Board will determine:


    • Whether performance reflected through the appraisal schemes is delivering key strategic objectives.
    • Improvements in quality/consistency.
    • Improvements/ changes in the scheme.
  • Tools and Top Tips -For the Appraisee

    Advice for Appraisee

    There are important responsibilities on the part of the appraisee to maximise the positive impact of appraisal. Staff appraisal is a simple process of REFLECTION and PLANNING. Some of this takes place before the meeting, some during, some immediately afterwards and then some throughout the year.

    Preparing for Appraisal: Appraisee

    1. During the year keep your objectives/activities up to date through regular discussions with your appraiser, and review regularly the evidence you will present during appraisal.

    2. Consider what you want to discuss in your appraisal and make notes.

    3. Consider areas in which you hope to receive feedback.

    You may find it helpful to consider these questions during preparation:

    • How have things changed in my role?

    • What have I achieved/contributed to School/Directorate standards, objectives and targets?
    • Have I met the Queen’s Professional Standards which define how I should behave?
    • What prevented me from achieving what I wanted to?
    • Which aspects of my role give most satisfaction?
    • What does my past performance tell me about my strengths and weaknesses?
    • What then are my development needs?
    • Do I have skills which are being under-used at present?
    • In thinking ahead, what are my career interests?
    • Are there ways in which things could be better?

    4. Consult the guidance on standards, objectives and key tasks and think about your own objectives and tasks/activities for the year ahead.

    When completing your appraisal report you should take into account:

    • Resources
    • Information
    • Management structure
    • Organisation
    • Structure
    • Systems/Procedures
    • Development

  • Tools and Top Tips - For the Appraiser

    There are important responsibilities on the part of the appraiser to maximise the positive impact of appraisal. Staff appraisal is a simple process of REFLECTION and PLANNING. Some of this takes place before the meeting, some during, some immediately afterwards and then some throughout the year.

    Preparing for Appraisal: Appraiser

    • Prior to the appraisal meeting Directors and Heads of School should meet with appraisers to ensure they are clear as to the standards that should be applied.
    • The appraiser should book a suitable time and place for the discussion.
    • Prepare and structure for the appraisal meeting in advance.
    • Appraisees should be given guidance as to the appropriate standards and objectives relevant to their grade.
    • Make sure that you have reviewed the guidance on standards, objectives and key tasks before the appraisal discussion.
    • Appraisees should be briefed about Faculty/ Directorate/School plans.
    • Gather evidence on the appraisee’s performance.
    • Be clear about the feedback you wish to give to the appraisee.
    • In the context of agreed standards have an open and honest discussion.
    • Identify strengths, weaknesses and barriers to improvement.
    • Have regard to the Queen’s Professional Standards which define how all staff should behave, wherever they work, whatever they do
    • Consider your appraisee’s level of development and in the case of academic colleagues consult the promotions profiles.
    • Plan how you will assist the appraisee to improve their performance.

    The Appraisal Discussion

    The appraisal discussion should enable open and constructive dialogue between appraisee and appraiser.

    The discussion is divided into three parts:

    • Reviewing past performance and agreeing a summary statement
    • Agreeing new objectives for the next year
    • Agreeing development needs
    • Reviewing Performance

      The emphasis in reviewing performance is on giving constructive feedback based on evidence and on encouraging reflective learning on the part of the appraisee.

      First the appraiser should explain the format of the discussion.

      In reviewing the appraisee’s performance the appraiser should lead the discussion by using open questions and affording the appraisee the opportunity to provide full responses drawing on the available evidence.

      The appraisee should be allowed an opportunity to make some points in summary.

      If the appraiser disagrees with the appraisee's perceptions, he/she should ask questions which focus the discussion on evidence of achievements, with a view to encouraging reflection on the part of the appraisee.

      The appraiser should be specific in summary about his/her own views and should make comments supported by evidence at appropriate points in the discussion. Should the appraiser feel that there are performance shortfalls he/she should explore the reasons for such shortfalls.

      All discussion should take place with the objective of reaching an agreed view.

      Appraisers should actively encourage comments and questions from the appraisee and ensure that there are key point summaries made throughout the discussion.

      In giving feedback, it is important to highlight good performance and seek to have a balance in the discussion. Negative criticism should be avoided and will only have the effect of shutting down communication.

      Queen’s Professional Standards

      Queen’s Professional Standards are a set of values and behaviours which help lead staff to successful performance in the job. As part of the appraisal discussion the ‘Queen’s Professional Standards’ is a reference guide that can be used when discussing effective and less effective behaviour with others, providing staff with clear expectations about what is required to be successful in their jobs.

      When reviewing performance, in the context of the ‘Queen’s Professional Standards’ it is worth noting the following points. Queen’s Professional Standards :

      • Focus on how tasks are achieved, not, what is achieved.
      • Describe a range of different types of behaviour which are relevant to all job categories, roles and grades of staff.
      • They provide a common language describing the attributes displayed by individuals.
      • The manager, in the context of the individual’s role will discuss the standard of behaviour that is expected for that grade and type of role.
      • The standard of behaviour should be within the remit of the appraisee’s role and grade, compatible with their responsibilities.

      Advice on Good Practice

      Points to consider are:

      • Check out all major concerns.
      • Use open questions to encourage discussion.
      • Check out understanding often.
      • Comparisons where made should reflect benchmarking (internal or external). Personal comparison should be avoided.
      • Summarise often.
      • Be sure you have agreement before moving on to another topic.
      • Avoid stating opinions.
      • Seek to make the seating arrangement relaxed and non-confrontational.
      • Take notes.
      • Ensure there are no interruptions.
      • Make any special arrangements if required.
      • Agreeing New Objectives for the Next Year

        The purpose of objective setting is to ensure the achievement of Faculty/Directorate/School/University targets and plans.

        At the beginning of the academic year Senior Management should ensure that all appropriate staff are made aware of the key goals to be addressed within their respective approved Faculty, Directorate, School Plan. Senior managers should ensure that appropriate consultation has taken place within each Faculty, Directorate, School.

        Individual objectives and key tasks/activities are the primary yardstick against which the appraisee's progress and achievement are monitored and assessed. Appraisers are responsible for guiding their colleagues towards the achievement of objectives and key tasks/activities, and agreeing revisions and amendments and amending these where necessary due to unforeseen circumstances or changed priorities.

        What Makes a Good Objective?

        Objectives set should clearly indicate which achievements are expected at the end of the period. It is important, if commitment to objectives is to be gained, that the process is seen as reasonable and fair, and that advice is given on 'how to get there'. Objective setting should cover the totality of the role otherwise the risk exists that a person may focus on the set objectives to the detriment of everything else.

        Good objectives should be:

        • Specific and related to Institutional priorities and standards.
        • Measurable with clear metrics and outcomes understood.
        • Achievable though they should provide stretch for the individual.
        • Relevant to the School/Directorate standards, objectives and targets.
        • Timed, should be clearly time-bounded.

        Types of Objective

        In setting objectives it is important to bear in mind the critical strategic targets set out in the School/Directorate Plan and to which the individual makes a contribution.

        Improvement: doing something we already do, but doing it 'better'. Appraisal should specify what element will be better, how it will be done, to what level improvement should be reached and by when.

        Maintenance: doing something at the same high standard.

        Development: doing something completely new, or developing an existing activity into a new direction. Here the appraiser needs to ensure the objective is still relevant to the School/Directorate Plan and helps the individual work towards a balanced portfolio of achievement.

        Key Tasks: Key tasks are the main activities a member of staff does to support the achievement of objectives. Typically there might be three or four associated with each objective. They break the objective down into for example statements about key processes; methods of management or communication, resource usage or key steps to achieving the main objective.

        The appraiser will review the objectives to ensure that they:

        • Contribute to Faculty/ Directorate/School Plan.
        • Are consistent with the range of activities which the individual is undertaking.
        • Are appropriate to the individual and the stage he/she is at in his/her career.
        • Evidence of Achievement of Objectives/Measurable Outcomes/Milestones

        For an objective to be measurable, it is important to determine at the outset how it will be measured - i.e. the evidence that will be provided to demonstrate achievement. This should form an integral part of the objective-setting process and be recorded in the appropriate section.

        The collection of evidence should not be an onerous task. The appraisee should use, wherever possible, existing sources of data. (For example, achievement of objectives related to teaching could be supported by evidence generated from student assessments or from peer assessment (if the individual participates in them) or evidence of progress toward Research Targets).

        Agreeing Development Needs

        Agreeing development needs is integral to the appraisal process.

        • Staff development should not be considered as something that only new staff or staff that are struggling or underperforming need.
        • Employee development should be an on-going process aimed at supporting sustained excellent performance as well as to facilitate excellence.
        • Development Plans provide a link between employee development and Institutional performance.
        • Development is the responsibility of both the individual and the appraiser. Realistic development plans need to be put in place.